What's the best way to treat spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis? My 80-year old father has both conditions and we are trying to figure out how to help him.
Both of these spine conditions lead to irritation or compression of the spinal nerves. Spondylolisthesis is the forward movement of one vertebra over another. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the openings for the spinal cord or spinal nerves.

Aging and the associated degenerative changes in the spine that come with aging are common causes of both problems. Treatment usually begins with conservative care. This means a nonsurgical approach.

Your father's doctor may prescribe physical therapy, acupuncture, or pain relievers at first. Sometimes patients try all three. The symptoms of back and leg pain can be very disabling. Physical function declines and so does quality of life.

Surgery is an option for some patients when conservative care doesn't relieve the symptoms. But in an older adult, the complications of surgery can outweigh the benefits. In such cases, a series of epidural steroid injections (ESIs) can be helpful.

Once again, the surgeon may suggest a patient combine ESIs with other modalities such as analgesics or exercise. It may take a period of weeks to months to find the right combination or steps in treatment that really help. There doesn't seem to be a one answer fits all patients with these conditions.